Doherty caps junior career with gold

CHEILE GRADISTEI, Romania — It had been building up all week. After earning bronze in Thursday's individual and silver in Saturday's sprint, Center Conway's Sean Doherty added to his record-setting career medal haul at the IBU Youth/Junior World Championships and completed the countdown in sequence with a gold medal in Sunday's pursuit in Cheile Gradistei, Romania.

The 20-year-old Kennett High graduate showed no signs of pressure as he cleaned his final shooting stage to secure a nearly 30-second victory in the junior men's 12.5-kilometer pursuit and claim the 10th individual medal of his career at the event.

"I could not be happier right now," said a jubilant Doherty. "This race today was the perfect way to end my career as a junior. I could not have even imagined a better race. I want to say thank you to everyone who was cheering on any continent."

Doherty started the pursuit in second place after Saturday's sprint, 11.5 seconds behind leader Felix Leitner of Austria. He was stride-for-stride with Leitner after cleaning the first prone, but fell 21 seconds back after a miss at the second prone stage. However, two misses by Leitner at the first standing, coupled with just one miss by Doherty, propelled Doherty into the lead by 13 seconds with five kilometers and five shots remaining. When he went clean in the final standing, Doherty had sewn up the victory, crossing the line in 36:01.1, 29.6 seconds ahead of Russia's Nikita Porshnev and 38.8 up on Leitner. Full junior men's pursuit results are available here.

Doherty, a 2014 Olympian, finishes his youth/junior career with four gold medals, four silver medals and two bronze medals in the individual competitions at the IBU Youth/Junior World Championships.

Doherty nabbed his second medal of the week in the sprint race on Saturday in Cheile Gradistei, Romania.

Early morning heavy fog gave way to blue and sunny skies as the fourth day of competition began. Despite one penalty in each of the shooting stages, Doherty left standing just 8.7 seconds behind Leitner, but could not reduce the gap as Leitner won his second gold medal of the Junior World Championships, claiming the title in the junior men's 10-kilometer sprint with one penalty in 26:27.1. Doherty finished 11.5 seconds back of Leitner, winning his ninth individual award at the Youth/Junior World Championships, making Doherty the all-time leader in that category.

"Today's race was a great sprint for me," said Doherty. "I felt really good on the skis and I was able to ski the aggressive type of race that I want to. I'm looking forward to the pursuit."

Germany's David Zobel's one penalty helped him to claim the bronze, 39.3 seconds back of Leitner. Rounding out the U.S. team effort was Paul Everett (Tacoma, Wash.) in 62nd, Travis Cooper (Kenai, Alaska) in 86th, and Brian Halligan (Gansevoort, N.Y.) in 92nd place.

Sunday marked Doherty 10th career medal at IBU Youth/Junior World Championships. He had previously set the all-time record on Saturday with nine medals.

"I didn't know I had done it until a good ways after the (sprint) race," Doherty recalled of becoming the most decorated biathlete at youth/junior worlds in an interview for FasterSkier.com. "I was in the press conference (and a reporter) asked the question, and I didn't know until that point that I had set a new record."

When it came down to it, he insisted he was just like every other junior at the championships. He woke up each morning on race days and had to kill time while staying focused until 2:30 in the afternoon. Then, he'd put on his race suit, get into his pre-race routine, and get down to business.

"I get nervous just like any other human," Doherty said. "There's a lot of pressure for these races I just did, and I'm really happy with how I performed with it all, but it's something that's not that easy to deal with."

He reached the podium in all three individual races at these championships and started Sunday's pursuit 12 seconds behind Leitner as the second starter out of the gate. Mostly, Doherty said he focused on his own race and staying confident in his ability to catch Leitner.

"Even though it's tempting to charge out of the game and try to catch Felix on the first lap, it's not smart," he recalled.

After cleaning his first prone stage, Doherty missed his first shot of his second prone. That wasn't ideal, he explained, but he made a point to maintain his energy and keep a good headspace heading into his second loop.

"That wasn't damaging, that one miss," he said.

Meanwhile, Leitner cleaned the first two stages to remain in the lead, by 21 seconds over Doherty. He entered the range for the third time in first, well enough ahead of Doherty that he had fired off his shots before the American settled in.

While Doherty knew it was best to focus on himself, he couldn't help but notice Leitner had missed two in that standing stage.

"I tried to stay to stay calm and not let what was was going on with him not affect me too much. I got a little excited and kind of jerked the last shot," Doherty said.

He missed one, but emerged out of the penalty loop 13.4 seconds before Leitner.

"I just really wanted to finish the race off and I knew that I could do it," Doherty said. "I just tried to think of it like training: I've done this before and nothing crazy needs to happen right now."

The Austrian went on to miss another in his final standing stage (while Doherty cleaned) to fall to third. Russia's Porshnev cleaned his last three stages to take hold of second place.

For Doherty, capping his junior career with gold in the pursuit was perfect.

"I really couldn't have imagined a better ending, really," he said. "This is the perfect end to my junior career.

"I'm still pretty over the moon," he added.

On Monday, Doherty planned to fly home to New Hampshire, where he'll spend the next week recovering leading up to the IBU World Cup in Presque Isle, Maine — about a six-hour drive from his hometown. He is skipping Tuesday's junior relay and the upcoming World Cup in Canmore, Alberta, which starts Thursday.

FasterSkier.com and U.S. Biathlon contributed to this story.

 

Doherty earns bronze medal at the IBU Youth/Junior World Championships

CHEILE GRADISTEI, Romania — Center Conway's Sean Doherty took the bronze medal and Maddie Phaneuf (Old Forge, N.Y.) placed fifth in their opening races at the IBU Youth/Junior World Championships on Thursday in Cheile Gradistei, Romania.

Doherty placed third in the junior men's 15-kilometer individual event with a time of 43 minutes and 56.5 seconds, with two penalties. He was 2:01.1 behind Austria's Felix Leitner, who claimed the gold medal.

"I am happy to start the racing with such a strong result," Doherty said. "Today I felt strong on the skis and very in control on the shooting range. I'm looking forward to the sprint and to more racing to come."

Doherty will race in the Sprint on Saturday, Pursuit on Sunday, Relay on Monday.

Paul Everett (Tacoma, Wash.) gave Team USA three top-20 finishes on the day as he came in 19th in the men's race with one penalty and a time of 48:23. Rounding out the U.S. efforts were Brian Halligan (Gansevoort, N.Y.) in 51st (51:50.3/+4) and Travis Cooper (Kenai, Alaska) in 84th (56:46.6/+9).

Phaneuf's time in the junior women's 12.5K individual race was 40:45.8, with two penalties. She was just 53.1 seconds behind winner Susanna Kuzthaler of Austria.

"I was so happy with my result today, and it also kept me wanting more," said Phaneuf. "I'm excited to see that my ski speed is at the top of this competitive field and I'm looking forward to the next few races."

Siena Ellingson (Minnetonka, Minn.) was 43rd in the women's race with three penalties and a time of 46:21.3.

The IBU Youth & Junior World Championships continue Friday with the Youth sprint events.

 

Locke inks new deal; excited about 2016 season

By Lloyd Jones

CONWAY — Jeff Locke took care of business off the field last Thursday, and now he's looking to do the same on the baseball diamond this year for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The 2006 Kennett High graduate agreed to a one-year contract with the Bucs Thursday night worth $3,025,000, a raise from $531,000.

Locke, a left-handed pitcher for the Pirates, is the son of Pam and Alan Locke, now of Madison.

Locke, 28, and Sam Fuld, 34, who grew up in Durham and now plays the outfield for the Oakland A's, are the lone Granite Staters currently playing Major League Baseball.

Locke, who was eligible for arbitration for the first time this year, was 8-11 with a 4.49 ERA in 30 starts last year.

To be eligible for arbitration, a player must accrue at least three years of major-league service time. If they don't quite reach three years, but fall in the top 22 percent of players with more than two years, they qualify for an extra year — known as "Super Two" status.

Teams can assign any salary they wish to pre-arbitration players, usually slightly more than the $507,500 major-league minimum.

The lone New Hampshire two-time Player of the Year just wrapped up a mini-camp for the Pirates in Bradenton, Fla., on Friday.

"It went real well," Locke said by phone Friday. "I'll stay down here now and work out three or four days a week until (Spring Training) camp starts (Feb. 17 is the first day for pitchers and catchers to report with the first workout scheduled for Sept. 19)."

Locke, who lives just down the street from pitching coach Ray Searage, has been working quite a bit with the bullpen guru.

"We're going to change my delivery," Locke said. "I'm going back to over my head with my hands to take the turn (of his body) out of it to help get my backside with more power. With the way I had been pitching, the turn made it really hard for me to repeat my delivery every time.

"I never had a problem in my life throwing strikes," he continued. "I almost take offense to the number of walks I've given up. (Laughing) I joked I turned my body so much I knew what (center-fielder) Andrew McCutchen was doing more than (catcher) Francisco Cervelli. I think we're progressing in the right direction."

Last year, Locke led all MLB starting pitchers with the most pitches thrown on the inside of the plate.

"Honestly, I think 49 percent of my pitches were on the inner-third of the plate to right-handed batters," he said. "We teach to pitch inside and protect the plate. I love being inside. I don't like to see anyone get (their arms) extended out over the plate."

For the first time in the past three years Locke is penciled into the starting rotation for the Pirates. In the past two years he's been projected in a battle for the fifth spot in the rotation with a teammate. Each time, Locke has claimed that spot, but he's excited to know this spring he's got a spot already, joining Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano, Jon Niese and Ryan Vogelsong in the rotation.

"I'm feeling really good," Locke said. "Every year people say they're feeling good going into camp, but I honestly feel great. I'm excited for the upcoming season. I like the feeling of being relied on. It's not like it's been in the past. We didn't have a ton of movement in our group (of pitchers)."

Niese (who played for the New York Mets last season) and Vogelsong (who pitched for the San Francisco Giants last year) are the newest additions to the rotation for the Pirates this year.

"I met Niese the other day," Locke said. "He dropped by camp because he wanted to meet some of the guys. He seems like just a great guy; he's going to help us."

Off the diamond, Locke was pleased to reach an agreement with the Pirates.

"I got a deal squared away, it feels good," he said. "It's hard to believe I've been in professional baseball for 10 years now and spent parts of six seasons in the big leagues. My dad and I talked (Friday morning) and he told me (this contract) was what I'd dream about as a kid. I woke up this morning, and had it changed me, no. If anything, maybe it's made me more determined than ever.

"It makes you feel good the team wants you," Locke continued. "If they didn't want you, they didn't have to sign you. ... I really want to thank all of my supporters and people who believed in me."

Locke, who was a darn good hitter in high school, laughed when asked if this would be the year he hits his first home run in the show.

"It's so much more different now than hitting in high school," he said. "No one was throwing 95 or 96 miles per hour with movement back then. (Laughing) These days it looks like an aspirin is coming at the speed of light."

Selected by the Atlanta Braves in the second round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft out of Kennett High School, Locke was the only member of the the Braves' draft class to make it to the Majors.

Locke, Charlie Morton (now with Philadelphia) and minor league outfielder Gorkys Hernandez (in the San Francisco Giants organization) were traded by the Atlanta Braves in 2009 for Pittsburgh's outfielder Nate McLouth.

Locke, who was named to the National League All Star Team in 2014, had what he calls "the best start of his Major League career," last July 4, when he pitched eight innings and gave up only two hits to lead the Pirates to a 1-0 win over the Cleveland Indians before a crowd of 37,298 at PNC Park.

"I can't speak enough about Locke's effort today, it was fantastic," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

"Oh man, he really pitched a good game," said Cleveland's Terry Francona.

Locke's line was impressive as he went 8 shutout innings and gave up only two hits, struck out six and didn't walk any but it doesn't tell nearly the whole story of just how dominant he was.

A look deeper into Locke's performance reveals no Indians runner reached second base and he retired the final 19 batters he faced as he finished with six consecutive perfect innings before giving way to closer Mark Melancon in the 9th.

Locke said the key was simple, well, more accurately the key was to keep it simple and throw strikes which is what he tried to do all day.

"I was really just trying to throw strike one because they are a very aggressive team," said Locke, who faced 25 hitters and only twice even got to a three-ball count. "It plays to our defense's favor with ground balls and flyouts early in the count it allowed me to get back up on the mound and keep attacking the zone against those guys.

"When you get into a good rhythm, you just want to try and stay in that rhythm and keep working within your game plan."

 

Volvo named to the East Coast Selects hockey team

CONWAY — Wade Volvo, 12, of North Conway has been chosen as one of the top youth hockey players in the country.
Volvo was recently named to The Selects Hockey Organization for their North America East Coast Selects-Q hockey team. On Jan. 1, 250 players were invited from across North America to be scouted and competed for 17 spots on four separate teams.
Volvo, who plays center in the Mount Washington Valley Youth Hockey Association and the Junior Warriors in the Elite-9 League in Haverhill, Mass., will play for the team in Bolzano, Italy, Toronto, Buffalo and Boston.
The first trip is to Bolzano, Italy this spring to participate in an all-star tournament and educational tour.
Volco will play in the World Selects Hockey Invitational featuring teams from USA, Latvia, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, Russia, Norway, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Finland.
In addition to the hockey portion of the trip, the team will spend time touring the cities, visiting museums, castles and other historical landmarks throughout each city.
As part of the experience, players are required to fundraise for the trip.
"To help us raise money, my team which consists of some of the top players from all of North America, will be producing a program book to commemorate the trip and subsidize expenses associated with overseas travel," Wade writes on his myevent page (http://myevent.com/wadesworldselecthockey). This book will be distributed around ice arenas, to all participating players and among all our friends and family. The way this works is — you would be sponsoring my trip by paying for an ad that would be a part of this book! If you are interested in this, please visit www.legacyglobalsports.com/sponsorships and read about the various sponsorship levels. Thank you for believing in and sponsoring me!"
As of Wednesday, Volvo had raised $1,410 of the goal of $2,500, collecting that amount from 25 donors over 13 days.
The deadline to get all sponsorship materials in is March, 1.
Anyone wishing to donate to the fund should visit (http://myevent.com/wadesworldselecthockey).
 

NH Fish and Game K-9 Unit benefits from private donation

CONCORD — The Wildlife Heritage Foundation of NH has received a $5,000 donation from TransCanada Corporation to support the Canine (K-9) Unit of the NH Fish and Game Department.

NH Fish and Game's K-9 unit consists of three teams that respond to over 125 calls each year. They conduct search and rescue missions to find lost hikers, as well as finding people suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia. They are also called upon to locate spent shell casings at the scene of wildlife crimes, locate illegally taken fish and wildlife, track suspects, and detect evidence in criminal cases for other law enforcement agencies.

"We are very grateful for the generous donation of TransCanada Corporation that will ensure that K-9s Sig, Ruger and Ruby will continue to be equipped with the necessary safety equipment and care while they continually patrol our state," said Colonel Kevin Jordan, Chief of Fish and Game Law Enforcement. While Canine Unit handlers are Fish and Game Conservation Officers, the costs of care and equipment of the dogs are not supported by the state budget, so all costs must come from private donations.

TransCanada operates hydroelectric facilities on the Connecticut River and Deerfield River consisting of hydroelectric stations and associated storage reservoirs and dams in NH, VT and MA. The company and their employees are active participants in both public and private civic activities in the 53 communities along the rivers. The company owns 30,000 acres associated with their facilities, and the lands are open to the public and are managed to ensure safe public access and recreational uses of hiking, fishing, hunting, cross country skiing and snowmobiling. They also own and maintain 20 boat launches along the rivers. TransCanada recently achieved Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIGI) certification to assure that all facilities have avoided or reduced environmental impact.

The Wildlife Heritage Foundation of New Hampshire is the official non-profit partner of the NH Fish and Game Department, and works to secure funds in support of the Department's critical educational, conservation, wildlife and law enforcement programs important to preserving New Hampshire's outdoor heritage for generations to come.

To learn more about the Foundation and how you can help preserve New Hampshire's heritage of wild places and wild things, visit www.nhwildlifeheritage.org and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wildlifeheritageNH.